A Lebanese Woman Reflects on Her Visit to Israel

As a Lebanese-American whose father fled to Lebanon from Haifa in 1948, Carol Jahshan was at first uncertain of her decision to spend three months in Israel. Nevertheless, despite the efforts of friends and family to dissuade her, she went—and found much that was unexpected:

I am dark-haired and olive-skinned. Everyone who addressed me did so in Hebrew. When I responded with “Ani lo m’vinah ivrit” (I don’t understand Hebrew), I was met with surprise. Some Israelis told me, laughing, that I looked more Israeli than they did. Inevitably, the question “where are you from?” would come up. It turned out that I had no need to be anxious [about their reactions]. I let people know that I was from Lebanon and was met with smiles. I let people know that my father was born in Haifa in 1948 and that same year his family took him to Lebanon where he lived most of his life. More smiles and friendly curiosity. . . . I was invited into a variety of people’s homes for Shabbat dinners. This was not the reception I had expected at all. . . . Among the many complex feelings I felt in Israel, one of the most undeniable, surprising, and important was feeling absolutely welcomed. . . .

As [my family and I] drove through northern Israel, I realized how many Arabs live here, and that it would be possible for me to get along just fine in Israel speaking only Arabic. This was another surprise. In all of the conversations I had ever had or heard relating to the political situation surrounding Israel, the existence of Israeli Arabs was simply never acknowledged. All of a sudden, when listening to a Hizballah threat to bomb Haifa, I realized that threats like these are ultimately threats to my own family members and many other Arab people. . . . Another insight I did not have before spending time in Israel.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Haifa, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Lebanon, Palestinian refugees


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security